Skip to content

AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EDT

Severe storms kill at least 4 in Houston, knock out power to 850,000 homes and businesses HOUSTON (AP) — Fast-moving thunderstorms pummeled southeastern Texas on Thursday for the second time this month, killing at least four people, blowing out windo

Severe storms kill at least 4 in Houston, knock out power to 850,000 homes and businesses

HOUSTON (AP) — Fast-moving thunderstorms pummeled southeastern Texas on Thursday for the second time this month, killing at least four people, blowing out windows in high-rise buildings, downing trees and knocking out power to more than 850,000 homes and businesses in the Houston area.

Officials urged residents to keep off roads, as many were impassable and traffic lights were expected to be out for much of the night.

“Stay at home tonight, do not go to work tomorrow, unless you’re an essential worker. Stay home, take care of your children,” Houston Mayor John Whitmire said in an evening briefing. “Our first responders will be working around the clock.”

The mayor said four people died. At least two of the deaths were caused by falling trees, and another happened when a crane blew over in strong winds, officials said.

Streets were flooded, and trees and power lines were down across the region. Whitmire said wind speeds reached 100 mph (160 kph), “with some twisters.”


Michael Cohen pressed on his crimes and lies as defense attacks key Trump hush money trial witness

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump's lawyers accused the star prosecution witness in his hush money trial of lying to jurors, portraying Trump fixer-turned-foe Michael Cohen on Thursday as a serial fabulist who is bent on seeing the presumptive Republican presidential nominee behind bars.

As Trump looked on, defense attorney Todd Blanche pressed Cohen for hours with questions that focused as much on his misdeeds as on the case's specific allegations and tried to sow doubt in jurors’ minds about Cohen’s crucial testimony implicating the former president.

Blanche's voice rose as he interrogated Cohen with phone records and text messages over Cohen's claim that he spoke by phone to Trump about the hush money payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels that is at the heart of the case, days before wiring her lawyer $130,000.

Blanche said that was a lie, confronting Cohen with texts indicating that what was on his mind, at least initially, during the phone call were harassing calls he was getting from an apparent 14-year-old prankster. Cohen said he believed he also spoke to Trump about the Daniels deal.

“We are not asking for your belief. This jury does not want to hear what you think happened,” Blanche said, his voice growing even louder, prompting an objection from the prosecutor.


House Republicans ditch their day jobs to stand with Trump, while legislating languishes

Leaving Washington behind, prominent far-right House Republicans who have repeatedly thrown this Congress into chaos showed up Thursday at Donald Trump’s hush money trial to do what they do best.

They stood outside Trump Tower filming their support for the indicted former president. They filed into the Manhattan courthouse “standing back and standing by,” as Rep. Matt Gaetz put it — invoking Trump’s call to the extremist Proud Boys. They were admonished to put down their cell phones.

And the House Republicans commandeered the spotlight — much like House Speaker Mike Johnson did earlier in the week — to rant against what they called the “kangaroo court” and the “political persecution” of Trump, as their day jobs waited for their return.

“President Trump is not going anywhere,” said Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., as hecklers interrupted.

“And we are not going anywhere either. We are here to stand with him.”


GOP advances Garland contempt charges after White House exerts executive privilege over Biden audio

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two House committees moved ahead Thursday with contempt charges against Attorney General Merrick Garland for refusing to turn over audio from President Joe Biden’s interview with a special counsel, advancing the matter after the White House's decision to block the release of the recording earlier in the day.

In back-to-back hearings that nearly spilled into early Friday, the House Judiciary and Oversight and Accountability committees voted along party lines to advance an effort to hold Garland in contempt of Congress for not turning over the records. But the timing of any action by the full House, and the willingness of the U.S. attorney’s office to act on the referral, remained uncertain.

“The department has a legal obligation to turn over the requested materials pursuant to the subpoena,” Rep. Jim Jordan, the GOP chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said during the hearing. “Attorney General Garland’s willful refusal to comply with our subpoena constitutes contempt of Congress.”

The rapid sequence of events Thursday further inflamed tensions between House Republicans and the Justice Department, setting the stage for another round of bitter fighting between the two branches of government that seemed nearly certain to spill over into court.

If House Republicans’ efforts against Garland are successful, he will become the third attorney general to be held in contempt of Congress. The White House slammed Republicans in a letter earlier Thursday, dismissing their efforts to obtain the audio as purely political.


Lawyer for family of slain US Air Force airman says video and calls show deputy went to wrong home

STONECREST, Ga. (AP) — A lawyer for the family of Roger Fortson said Thursday that police radio traffic and the body camera footage of the Florida sheriff’s deputy who killed the Black U.S. Air Force airman reinforce their assertion that the deputy was directed to the wrong apartment while responding to a domestic disturbance call that day.

In police radio traffic that lawyer Ben Crump played at a news conference surrounded by Fortson's family, a dispatcher said all they knew about the disturbance was “fourth-party information.”

“Uh, don’t have any further other than a male and female,” the dispatcher told officers. “It’s all fourth-party information from the front desk at the leasing office.”

Crump also highlighted two portions of the bodycam video in which the deputy asked the woman leading him around the complex, “Which door?” The woman responded, “Um… I’m not sure.” Seconds later, the woman told the officer that she heard a disturbance two weeks ago, but “I wasn’t sure where it came from.”

Fortson, 23, was shot May 3 by an Okaloosa County sheriff’s deputy in the doorway of his apartment. Sheriff’s officials say the deputy acted in self-defense while responding to a call of a disturbance in progress at the apartment complex.


Texas governor pardons ex-Army sergeant convicted of killing Black Lives Matter protester

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a full pardon Thursday for a former U.S. Army sergeant convicted of murder for fatally shooting an armed demonstrator in 2020 during nationwide protests against police violence and racial injustice.

Abbott announced the pardon shortly after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles announced a unanimous recommendation that Daniel Perry be pardoned and have his firearms rights restored.

Perry had been in state prison on a 25-year sentence since his 2023 conviction in the killing of Garrett Foster, and was released shortly after the pardon, a prison spokeswoman said.

Perry, who is white, was working as a ride-share driver when his car approached a demonstration in Austin. Prosecutors said he could have driven away from the confrontation with Foster, a white Air Force veteran who witnesses said never raised his gun.

A jury convicted Perry of murder, but Abbott called it a case of self-defense.


Justice Alito's home flew flag upside down after Trump's 'Stop the Steal' claims, report says

WASHINGTON (AP) — An upside-down American flag, a symbol associated with former President Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud, was displayed outside the home of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in January 2021, The New York Times reported Thursday.

A photo obtained and published by the newspaper shows the flag flying on Jan. 17, 2021, days after Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Dozens of the rioters were carrying similarly inverted flags and chanting slogans like “Stop the Steal.”

The report could raise concerns about Alito’s impartiality as the court considers two major cases related to the attack, including charges faced by the rioters and whether Trump has immunity from prosecution on election interference charges.

It comes as another conservative justice, Clarence Thomas, has ignored calls to recuse himself from cases related to the 2020 election over his wife, Ginni Thomas’, support for Trump and as public trust in the Supreme Court is at its lowest point in at least 50 years. Judicial experts said the flag clearly violates ethics rules set to avoid even the appearance of bias.

At the time the flag was flying, the court was still considering whether to take up cases over the 2020 election. It ultimately rejected them over dissent from three conservative justices, including Alito, who was appointed by Republican President George W. Bush. He wrote that the court’s consideration of the cases would have no impact on the 2020 election but “would provide invaluable guidance for future elections.”


Aid for Gaza will soon flow from pier project just finished by US military, Pentagon says

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon said Thursday that humanitarian aid will soon begin flowing onto the Gaza shore through the new pier that was anchored to the beach and will begin reaching those in need almost immediately.

Sabrina Singh, Pentagon spokeswoman, told reporters that the U.S. believes there will be no backups in the distribution of the aid, which is being coordinated by the United Nations.

The U.N., however, said fuel imports have all but stopped and this will make it extremely difficult to deliver the aid to Gaza’s people, all 2.3 million of whom are in acute need of food and other supplies after seven months of intense fighting between Israel and Hamas.

“We desperately need fuel,” U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said. “It doesn’t matter how the aid comes, whether it’s by sea or whether by land, without fuel, aid won’t get to the people.”

Singh said the issue of fuel deliveries comes up in all conversations with the Israelis.


House votes to require delivery of bombs to Israel in GOP-led rebuke of Biden policies

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House delivered a rebuke to President Joe Biden Thursday for pausing a shipment of bombs to Israel, passing legislation that seeks to force the weapons transfer as Republicans worked to highlight Democratic divisions over the Israel-Hamas war.

Seeking to discourage Israel from its offensive on the crowded southern Gaza city of Rafah, the Biden administration this month put on hold a weapons shipment of 3,500 bombs — some as large as 2,000 pounds — that are capable of killing hundreds in populated areas. Republicans were outraged, accusing Biden of abandoning the closest U.S. ally in the Middle East.

Debate over the bill, rushed to the House floor by GOP leadership this week, showed Washington's deeply fractured outlook on the Israel-Hamas war. The White House and Democratic leadership scrambled to rally support from a House caucus that ranges from moderates frustrated that the president would allow any daylight between the U.S. and Israel to progressives outraged that he is still sending any weapons at all.

The bill passed comfortably 224-187 as 16 Democrats joined with most Republicans to vote in favor. Three Republicans voted against it.

On the right, Republicans said the president had no business chiding Israel for how it uses the U.S.-manufactured weapons that are instrumental in its war against Hamas. They have not been satisfied with the Biden administration moving forward this week on a new $1 billion sale to Israel of tank ammunition, tactical vehicles and mortar rounds.


Kim's sister denies North Korea has supplied weapons to Russia

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un again denied Friday that her country has exported any weapons to Russia, as she labeled outside speculation on North Korea-Russian arms dealings as “the most absurd paradox.”

The U.S., South Korea and others have steadfastly accused North Korea of supplying artillery, missiles and other conventional weapons to Russia for its war in Ukraine in return for advanced military technologies and economic aid. Both North Korea and Russia have repeatedly dismissed that.

Foreign experts believe North Korea's recent series of artillery and short-range missile tests were meant to examine or advertise the weapons it was planning to sell to Russia.

Kim Yo Jong called outside assessments on the North Korean-Russian dealings “the most absurd paradox which is not worth making any evaluation or interpretation.”

“We have no intention to export our military technical capabilities to any country or open them to the public,” she said in a statement carried by state media.

The Associated Press

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks